How the Phillies and GM Ruben Amaro blew it over the winter

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OK, yeah, they should have kept Cliff Lee, too. But this is about the offense.
The Phillies have received excellent work from Roy Halladay, yet nearly halfway through 2010, they’re a mere six games over .500 and in third place in the NL East. The postseason is still very much within reach, yet the road just got a little more difficult Tuesday, with word that both Chase Utley and Placido Polanco would require DL stints.
Filling in at second and third will be Juan Castro, Greg Dobbs, Wilson Valdez and Brian Bocock.
No, it’s not a stellar group.
Castro – 597 career OPS, 492 in 113 AB in 2010
Dobbs – 723 career OPS, 465 in 66 AB in 2010
Valdez – 581 career OPS, 624 in 127 AB in 2010
Bocock – 414 career OPS, 470 in 212 AB in Triple-A in 2010
Of course, there’s not a team in baseball that can lose someone like Utley and merely shake it off. But the Phillies were especially ill-prepared for infield injuries this year and they’ve had the misfortune of having their second baseman, third baseman and shortstop all land on the disabled list.
GM Ruben Amaro Jr. deserves a lot of the blame for the ugly situation. Going into the winter, he had nine of his 13 position spots accounted for. Then he did this:
Nov. 24 – Signed Castro to a one-year, $750,000 contract with a club option for 2011
Dec. 1 – Signed Brian Schneider to a two-year, $2.75 million contract
Dec. 3 – Signed Polanco to a three-year, $18 million contract
Dec. 8 – Agreed with Ross Gload on a two-year, $2.6 million contract
And that was it. Barely a month after the World Series was in the books, the Phillies’ position roster was completely settled, barring injuries.
Amaro completely ignored the trends established the previous winter. He overspent to bring in players early and gave unnecessary multiyear deals to bench players.
Just as bad, he gave minor league free agents absolutely no reason to consider the Phillies. It should have been an attractive situation for veteran Triple-A players, given the Phillies’ status as a World Series contender and their lack of position player depth in the upper minors. But since there wasn’t even going to be a hint of competition for bench spots in spring training, the players went elsewhere.
Which is why they’re left with Valdez and Bocock.

Report: Dexter Fowler will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after lining out during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Update (8:51 PM EST): The deal is in place, according to Heyman.

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Update (8:27 PM EST): Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Cardinals made an “over-the-top offer” to Fowler to ensure he’d sign.

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Frank Cusumano of KSDK Sports reports that free agent outfielder will take a physical in St. Louis on Friday. Presumably, that means that Fowler and the Cardinals have gotten pretty far along in negotiations.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports recently reported that Fowler was looking for $18 million per year. The Blue Jays reportedly made an offer to Fowler in the four-year, $16 million range several days ago. The Cardinals’ offer to Fowler, if there is indeed one, is likely somewhere between the two figures.

Fowler, 30, is coming off of a fantastic year in which he helped the Cubs win their first World Series since 1908. During the regular season, he hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 home runs, 48 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 551 plate appearances.

Fowler rejected the Cubs’ $17.2 million qualifying offer last month. While the QO compensation negatively affected Fowler’s experience in free agency last offseason — he didn’t sign until late February with the Cubs — his strong season is expected to make QO compensation much less of an issue.

Braves acquire Luke Jackson from the Rangers

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 16:  Relief pitcher Luke Jackson #53 of the Texas Rangers  throws during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Globe Life Park on September 16, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. Texas won 14-3. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images)
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Tommy Stokke of RanRag Sports reports that the Braves and Rangers agreed to a trade. According to ESPN’s Keith Law, the Braves will receive pitcher Luke Jackson from the Rangers in exchange for pitchers Tyrell Jenkins and Brady Feigl.

Jackson, 25, is under team control through 2022. He has logged only 18 innings in the majors, yielding 14 runs on 22 hits and eight walks with three strikeouts. While Jackson has struggled with control, the Braves likely see upside because his fastball sits in the mid- to high-90’s.

Jenkins, 24, is also under team control through 2022. The right-hander made eight starts and six relief appearances in his first major league season in 2016, putting up a 5.88 ERA with a 26/33 K/BB ratio over 52 innings.

Feigl, 25, was an undrafted free agent and was signed by the Braves in 2013. The lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and briefly rehabbed in rookie ball this past season.